Why No-one Knows You Like Your Colleagues

“Helping one person might not change the whole world, but it could change the world for one person”

Neeraj Chandola

As I listened to the applause, cheers and whistles from my bedroom window this evening, and watched on the news as various iconic locations lit up in blue as a public display of appreciation and support for our NHS staff across the country, it prompted me to write a post I’ve been meaning to write for a while now. 

It struck me that through the many struggles we face in the NHS everyday, and despite the frustrations this brings to its workers, what keeps us going every day (and night), and what enables us to provide great patient care, is not ‘the system’. It’s the amazing support we receive from our co-workers every day. There is no-one who knows the emotions we go through over those 13 hour shifts better than the people we share them with every day; not our family, our partners or our kids. It’s our coworkers who keep us going – often spending more time with them than we do our loved ones and families. This emotional and practical support from someone who knows, is built upon a foundation of mutual trust and respect, and is truly invaluable. A midwife’s best source of support are her fellow midwives. 

We all support each other, and I’ve never felt anything quite like it. We’ve each got each others’ backs. We pull each other up when one has fallen. We lift each other up when we are down. We wipe each other’s tears and make tea when times are rough.

[We also laugh hysterically and make tea when times are good too]

It’s impossible to do this job and not form incredible bonds with the people that you work with. Your colleagues see you through everything (and I mean EVERYTHING)! They see you at the crack of dawn and in the silence of the night. They see you after working straight for 13 hours because there’s been no opportunity to take a break. They see you when your whole body aches because you’ve been on your feet all night. They see you when you’re physically and energetically spent from supporting mums and families as they welcome their new life into this world. They see you when we’ve cried with families as they’ve said their final goodbyes to their babies born sleeping. They see us at our worst. They see us with our tired eyes, messy hair and sweaty scrubs. They see us long after our makeup has faded and our smiles have had enough. They see us in the early hours as we rush in to work having already done what’s felt like a morning’s work. They see us as we rush to work in the evening having already done a day’s work at home. They see us after we’ve tucked our families up in bed and crept out of the door to work; as everyone else’s day unwinds and we prepare to work throughout the night. They are there with us through all of life’s ups and downs. They see us after we’ve lost loved ones, they see us when we are driven to the edge by our own personal circumstances, yet we still put on our uniforms and pretend it hasn’t happened. They see us after arguments with our partners or families, missed christmases or school plays with our kids, birthdays and sports days we cannot attend, social outings with our friends and missed family gatherings. They see us as we feel the pang of guilt after leaving our kids at nursery for the umpteenth day that week. They see us consecutive nights on the trot. They see us through illnesses, miscarriages, losses, birthdays, anniversaries, pregnancies, babies, weddings, engagements, dates, break ups and divorce. We all feel this pain at some point. And we’ve all been there for another.

There is no one that knows you like your colleagues. 

You cannot do this job without creating the most wonderful friendships in the process. 

I remember literally sobbing through one of our last uni days as a classmate recalled tales of our training together. I knew at this point I’d be moving away from this great source of comfort, as a newly qualified midwife. Away from the faces I’d come to love over the last 3 years, and into a whole new realm at a new hospital as a brand new midwife, and the tears just streamed down my face! I was sad to be leaving these friends I had become so attached to. We’d learnt everything together. We’d witnessed our first everything as student midwives together. We’d lived through shock and horror, grief, beauty and trust in the whole process. We’d developed admiration, inspiration and respect for the women and families we’d cared for. And I was stepping away from this into the great unknown.

But now, over 10 years since that day, I’ve lived and worked in so many different places. I’ve had the privilege to have worked with so many amazingly diverse and talented different midwives, nurses, doctors, doulas, health care assistants, maternity support workers, neonatal specialists, volunteers, students, teachers, mentors, counsellors and healers. My network of colleagues is vast, and through them I’ve become the midwife I am today.

So today, I clap for them ~ 26.03.2020

There is strength in sisterhood. You are not alone. We are in a sisterhood together, and together we can make it. 

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